Thursday, March 27, 2008
It's spring!! Among other delightful changes (skunk cabbage growing, phoebes singing, tundra swans migrating, wood frogs laying eggs) that also means it's time for woodland salamanders to migrate to vernal pools to breed! I hope you had your eyes peeled these past rainy weeks above 40F across PA! They've been on the move!! These aren't just any ordinary salamanders either. These babies are longer than my hand and just about as long as my boots! That's around 8 inches long!! They're the spotted and Jefferson's salamanders.
Were you aware there are 22 species of salamanders in PA? (http://www.fish.state.pa.us/salamander.htm) Many live under rocks near water, some live in fast flowing streams, some larger salamanders live in large rivers, and some, like the Jeffersons and Spotted live in the woods deep in the ground. These fascinating creatures don't come out of their burrows often other than to mate. It's that time of year! If you're out on a hike keep your ears open for wood frogs which are also dependent on vernal pools. Wood frog calls should lead you in the right direction (listen here: http://www.enature.com/fieldguides/detail.asp?recnum=AR0033). Once you find a pool look for migrating spotted salamanders and softball size egg masses! Lastly, if you're driving near a woody area on a rainy evening, watch out for crossing amphibians!
Happy Spring Peepers!